"Life after (peak) oil" (Nov. 12, by Gerry Canavan and Jaimee Hills) was very interesting as it expressed four very diverse means of dealing with the issue of our use of hydrocarbon-based fuels to power our economy and lifestyles. The dangers of this approach include dependence on materials whose availability is waning and the resulting damage to the environment through such effects as global warming. Many respected scientists and world climate organizations have done much to bring these matters to our national attention. However, there is much more to be done.
When gasoline prices were north of $4 per gallon, the topic du jour was the energy situation. Gasoline prices have dropped more than 40 percent in only a couple of months, and the issue is not in the public conscience as it was. In the $4-per-gallon-days, the stock market performance of alternative energy companies was outperforming the market as a whole. These companies are under-performing the market as a whole now that gasoline is comparatively "cheap."
I call upon President-elect Barack Obama to use his presidency to do for energy independence what President John F. Kennedy did for space travel. Starting from ground zero, this country in the 1960s succeeded in meeting Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon. We have been talking about "the energy crisis" since the early 1970s. We already have solar, tidal and geothermal among a number of non-polluting, essentially inexhaustible energy sources that show great potential. To talk of energy independence in 2050 is not only dangerous but short-sighted to an extent that approaches criminal.
"The tide is changing" (Nov. 6, by Bob Geary) very clearly states the optimism that is felt on many fronts by the changes wrought in the recent elections. As a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, I share the optimism that we may be on a course to reverse some of the damaging trends we have seen in past decades. The position that the Bush administration has taken on climate issues such as global warming is particularly disturbing, given that these attitudes directly contradict the opinions of respected climatologists such as NASA's James Hansen and many global climate organizations.
I realize that President-elect Barack Obama has a full plate with his transition to the presidency. However, I believe that he could send a powerful signal to the U.S. and the world that the U.S. is prepared to assume a position of leadership on the issue of climate change by attending the UN conference on climate that is being held in Poland in December. Even if it is not feasible for him to attend the full conference, I believe that it would be most helpful if he could spend a few days at the conference and have one or more representatives attend the full conference on his behalf.
America has shrugged its responsibilities on the issue of climate change in recent years. We now have an opportunity to begin to repair the damage done by shirking our responsibilities as a world citizen in recent years.